Why does there seem to be so much, dare I say, “hysteria” over Russia in your country?
(I could understand it, without agreeing with all of it, during the Cold War era. But now…?)
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96 thoughts on “A question for USA readers”
Not sure what you mean by hysteria, maybe you could tell us what’s really on your mind.
The reaction to Trump’s meeting and follow up announcements with Putin with calls of “treason” and such is what’s “really” on my mind. Sure Trump is no statesman and one can find much to criticize with his Putin meeting, just as one could with the North Korean leader. But the response to the Russian meeting appears to me to be stretching way beyond anything that was said of the Kim Jong-un meeting. Treason? Betrayal of his country? As if Russia is ravenous bear with jaws ever-threatening to devour the US and the world.
Even before the Trump meeting, the attention on the Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election strikes me as having bordered on farce. Of course other countries are known to attempt to sway elections in their rivals and neighbours. China, USA, Russia… It’s a serious issue but much of the attention seems to be disproportionate to other (domestic) problems with elections. — Unless the interference is coupled with massive support for local terrorist or other revolutionary forces.
The ‘treason’ story seems to be a farce, as it seems that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, will not be charged with ‘collusion’ with any Russians. Accusing someone in the press seems to be so much easier than bringing evidence into a courtroom where the accused can defend themselves.
Until Friday however, the investigation into the allegations had produced no formal indictment of Russian government interference in the election. Like previous U.S. government accusations against Russia for alleged election meddling, the indictment makes assertions without providing evidence. Indictments do not need to show evidence and under U.S. law, indictments are not considered evidence. And it is highly unlikely that the government will ever have to produce any evidence in court.
Friday’s indictments do not include any charges against Trump campaign members for allegedly colluding with the Russian government to carry out the hacks. That has been at the core of allegations swirling in U.S. media for two years.
OK, that’s a specific observation. The reaction is mostly about the unrelenting awfulness of Trump, mixed in with questions about his legitimacy specifically tied to Russian actions. There’s a growing body of evidence that Trump accepted significant Russian help in winning a tight election, he was not simply a benign beneficiary of Russian meddling. Because of this, he is illegitimate and has also since violated his oath (technically not treason) by supporting his own interests over the US. We shall see (hopefully).
I don’t think the ancestral fear of Russians left over from the cold war is a thing anymore. In fact, our right wing has embraced Russia, which kind of proves that rabid paranoia has been left behind.
Regarding the right wing embracing Russia, specifically, the extreme religious right wing, there is deep concern about Trump’s and Putin’s role in their goal of a world Christian order:
I reckon that, with protestant Christianity declining in the West, and the Catholic church being mauled for child abuse world wide, US and other western Christian fundamentalists are looking to the Russian Orthodox church as a key leader in the goal for such a world Christian order
Imagine, if you will, being raised believing that your country is of the people, by the people and for the people. Sure, you understand that your country is far from perfect, that it is not living up to its ideals, probably never has and probably never will. But you still know that you ostensibly have the power to change the course of your country’s history, that if enough of the rest of “the people” agree with you, you can move your country closer to the ideals it espouses.
Then you come to realize that the leader of your country may be controlled by somebody else. That his actions are not determined by the majority, or even a minority, of “the people,” but by an autocrat from a country that has never embraced modernism in any form.
The issue has really never been “Russia.” In fact, the issue has always been about whose vision of the United States controls. That of the people of the United States, or of somebody beyond their control and sanction?
Using the word “hysteria” is intentionally designed to paint the above-described form of patriotism as soft, feminine, estrogen-driven. The fact that you’ve adopted it tells me you spend too much time reading Glenn Greenwald and similar nihilists who have seem to have cynically abandoned their espoused ideals as unworkable and are now determined to get theirs by serving the enemies of their enemies. The are all realists now.
None of this is about Russia. Yes, there is some unfortunate rhetoric about Russia, but don’t get distracted by it the way the Greenwalds of the worlds want you to be. Remember, a year ago when Trump was going all “fire and fury,” nobody wanted nuclear war with North Korea, any more than they wanted nuclear war with Russia, then or now.
The reality is the “hysteria” about Russia belongs uniquely to Trump, who seems hell-bent on treating a 4th rate country with an economy smaller than several U.S. states (including New York and California) as an equal, when it simply isn’t. The U.S. can afford to get along with Russia as well as it gets along with Antarctica and feel no ill-effects. On the other hand, engaging with Russia, an actor who invades its neighbors in order to expand its territory, legitimizes its behavior at the possible expense of the deterrent the US established to such behavior in Europe.
Regarding what happened in Helsinki, do you have any idea what happened outside of the monumentally stupid and insane press conference? The answer is no, nobody in the U.S. but Trump knows what happened, and I am not sure he knows, either. He is waiting to be told what happens.
Nooo, not at all. Quite apart from not being able to remember when I last read anything by Greenwald or similar opinion writer I was not aware I was addressing “patriotism” specifically, but was addressing rather what I see in the lead stories in mainstream media sites with words associated with what to this outsider has sounded like a shrill, irrational fear of Russia as some sort of apocalyptic Beast set on “invading its neighbours in order to expand its territory”! 🙂 The sort of stuff that I thought we put behind us with the end of the Cold War.
“Beast set on invading its neighbors to expand its territory”
Did you miss the appropriation of the Crimea? The Russian surrogates invading Ukraine. Supposedly one of the things Trump and Putin talked in their private meeting, was a plebiscite to justify Russian absorption of eastern Ukraine. The Baltic countries are terrified of Russian designs on them.
In the USA we have been ceaselessly propagandized about Russia for generations now. So it is very easy to stimulate that fear response. It’s also true that most Americans don’t know any language other than a form of English, so we can never learn for ourselves first hand what those we are taught to hate and fear might have to say for themselves. Thus we are at the mercy of ‘experts’ who shape our view of the world outside of our neighborhood.
So this is a useful tool in the hands of politicians – if one group of partisan hacks can tar another group as somehow sympathetic of cooperative with the foreign devils an emotional reaction is guaranteed that will occlude any rational faculties from interfering with the propaganda. We saw this during the so-called McCarthy Era when Republicans and their extremist allies accused lots of Americans of ‘treason’ and disrupted ordinary functions of society for their political advantage.
Now we see that the Democratic Party and their extremist allies have turned the tables and have grabbed headlines with all kinds of accusations about alleged ‘treason’ for not hating the foreign devils enough. These sorts of things energize partisans and hardcore supporters and little attention is paid to the truth (if any) behind the charges.
I am reminded of the idea that a Manichaean view of the world continues to dominate the US.
I would be incredulous to discover where all these sudden Russia-apologists if not Russia-lovers have emerged from apparently Republican party ranks in which they would seem entirely invisible going back literally decades. It was the GOP who lived in adoration of the anti-communist Reagan, and the GOP rank and file was still ideologically against Putin throughout the GW Bush-Obama years. This certainly remains true of the current GOP-controlled Senate if not the GOP-controlled House, tho in the House there are emerging certain traitors. Look at GOP Rep Trey Gowdy today saying that the current situation is untenable and Trump needs to be taught a lesson by all of his intel officers tending their mass resignations.
you will certainly find no Russia-lovers among the Democrats since the advent of the oligarchs. That gives one a clue from where the interests of the Russia apologists/lovers actually stem: a right-wing fascist desire to take over the American government
although they WILL claim that fascism can only come out of socialism, as it sort of did in Russia.
But wait, the military and the banks and the churches absolutely supported Hitler despite his party using the word Socialism in its name!
and when Hitler was initially arrested and imprisoned at a military base, is it not true that he was allowed to roam free in the nearby city so long as he returned to his cell at night?
this right-wing fascist desire to take over the American government includes a religious element not unlike that depicted in both the book and current tv series Handmaid’s Tale.
the alt-right are also usually very pro-Christian, which is why I’m incredulous to see their talking points being added to a forum such as this. Unfortunately Neil I think you’ve attracted at least one or two white nationalists.
That’s certainly my observation regarding politics here. Democrats never seem to get tired of demonizing Republicans, and Republicans never cease excoriating the Democrats. This kind of tribalism is pernicious as it seems to breed hypocrisy. The rightness or wrongness of an action ends up being decided by which party the accused is a member of.
For instance, the US meddling in other nations is simply accepted as our God-given right – whether by bankrolling destabilizing elements abroad, manipulating elections, or when an election doesn’t go our way punishing the people with sanctions or simply invading and setting up our own puppets. But it is despicable if anyone else intrudes on our privilege. It’s the same old story about the US complaining about a speck in someone else’s eye while pretending we don’t have a log in our own.
When I was growing up it was always the villains who were torturing people. Torture was a symbol of pure evil. Now it is accepted that the USA does it. Gina Haspel could not become head of the CIA if she had been prosecuted for her crimes. But both parties who rule the USA now accept torture as part of The American Way.
I don’t doubt this kind of thing has always gone on. But it seems more dire today. In part it just might be that I am more aware of it having more experience as an observer. On the other hand I think the consequences are so much more dangerous.
Trump’s own admin announced that the Russians hacked the U.S. electrical grid and left tools behind to disable it at some future date. Does this not constitute an act of war? It certainly would in a non-nuclear age. Yet Trump continues to go out of his way to defer to Putin
I would also point out that Trump refusing to release his tax returns goes back to his own pre-election statement “If I did you wouldn’t vote for me.” His tax returns might very well reveal he has been living on Russian donations for decades, and there are indications this might very well be revealed by certain aspects of the Mueller investigation as well as the current one being launched by New York against the Trump Foundation
An imperial power intent on looking for pretexts to go to war with others would judge that it constituted an act of war. I would hope most sane citizens would not think so.
I have to respectfully disagree (although I think on the face of it your comment doesn’t deserve any respect, however this IS your forum), given the Russians could have activated those electrical grid tools at any time, particularly during the coming election.
I don’t think many sane citizens enduring such a blackout and then finding out from where it came would agree with you either. Though you did mention sane citizens. I would think those insane citizens who still support Trump who still defers to Putin at every opportunity might even want something like to happen, and again I am referring to white nationalists whose favor Trump also curries.
who are willing to support anything that leads to a right-wing dictatorship.
TELL ME NEIL, if 2020 comes along and Trump decides the election is not going to his liking and cancels it, what would you say then?
I don’t understand why you think my comment does not deserve any respect. I don’t understand the point of your hypothetical about cancelling an election, either.
You didn’t mention in your previous comment anything about an election “blackout” being a causus belli. You said “the Russians hacked the U.S. electrical grid and left tools behind to disable it at some future date. Does this not constitute an act of war?” I would think the election system is very poorly run if it allows such a possibility; and if the worst comes to the worse then I am sure back up plans with paper ballots can be resorted to. Do you think other countries would have had the right to send missiles into the US for the US’s interference with the elections of other countries? Did Australia have the right to try to bomb the US for their interference in our democracy in helping bringing down an elected government in 1972?
I’d be more worried about securing the systems and making sure people are not being wrongly disenfranchised and putting limits on campaign spending if I wanted to return the US to a respectable democracy.
You bring up a good point regarding US interference in other people’s elections. It seems the motto of the USA is ‘do as we say, not as we do’.
I consider domestic interests to be a bigger threat to my vote than anything the Russians are accused of. Domestic parties are engaged in gerrymandering, in antiquated mishmash of voting systems vulnerable to manipulation, disenfranchisement of citizens, the mere existence of the Electoral College (which is the sole reason we have Trump as our President).
The idea that everything would be fine if Trump is dismissed from office seems short sighted to me. In my view Trump is a symptom of larger, deeper, longstanding problems in our society. Dump Trump and we will have a dozen more to take his place. Among these problems is the corruption big money brings with it. Those in government who are supposed to be looking out for the interests of the people are instead beholden to the entities that fund them.
Why not consider alternative responses that fall short of war? Nations do that all the time, thankfully. Embargoes, reviewing ties that will disadvantage the other, sanctions, harnessing world opinion, etc.
There’s something about dominant world powers throughout history: unlike other nations they have a track record (even going back to ancient times) of retaliating with overwhelming violence to others who act in a way that tarnishes their self-image as “rightfully omnipotent”. The US is no different in this respect from any other great power in history, from what I have seen.
This is a deep state campaign with deep roots in our corporate media. From time-to-time our American elites become worried that there is not sufficient support for the chronically profitable MIC (military-industrial complex), even from a new president with vast business connections. Even the Democratic party is recruited this time to push a narrative that only expands and entrenches the all pervasive MIC.
Yep, “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming”. It got Eisenhower elected in 1952 and John F. Kennedy elected in 1960, it’ll get some pretty or handsome fellow or gal elected in 2020.
Putin attacked the oligarchs (super-rich) and got the country back on its feet again. That’s why 80% of the population support him. Right there, the American oligarchs who own the mass media have a great reason to destroy him.
Also the hysteria probably has to do with Russia taking advantage of global warming to make claims on areas with melting ice-caps. Whoever controls the top of the world controls the world. Think of having a finger on top of a spinning top. You can slow it down and speed it up at will. That is what Russia is planning to do to the Earth. Of course Americans have the right to be hysterical. We’re rational, aren’t we?
While all this is going on, nobody is paying attention that Jesus, in the form of a black man, has returned, and he’s getting crucified in Montgomery, County, Pennsylvania.
my gawd do these idiots not realize Putin is well-recognized as the supreme oligarch of them all in directing all the others and may be worth a billion $ or Russian equivalent currency himself?
Exactly. Putin has manipulated the oligarchs in behind himself.
Whether Putin’s attacks on the Russian oligarchs were primarily for the country’s benefit or for his benefit would be contentious. It would seem Putin is enjoying unrivalled authority.
Trump said he is focused on ending nuclear proliferation. I think that is what Trump wants to be remembered for. In this way, he treats places like Russia and North Korea with more kid gloves than most Americans would like.
Is it realistic to imagine that Trump wants to be remembered for the pursuit of any noble ideals?
I didn’t mean he would do it for noble reasons, just that he would do it to make a name for himself as one of the greatest presidents.
I think the big point here is that he seems to have finally, conclusively confirmed our worst fears: that he is a “controlled asset” (in CIA terms) of the Kremlin. Most of us “liberal” Americans were already pretty well convinced of this; but now a lot of traditional Republicans find it hard to deny.
The particular issue that has got people riled up is that Putin offered to allow Mueller to interview the indicted Russians, if Trump would allow Russian officials to interview 11 Americans, including a former ambassador, and Trump did not immediately reject this – even indicated that it was a good idea. This former ambassador has tangled with Putin over the arrest and death of an attorney in Russia, and has orchestrated many of the sanctions against Russia. People who cross Putin have an unfortunate habit of ending up dead or poisoned.
The larger issue is that Trump is acting like a Manchurian candidate. He was elected by a minority of the US population. Most American voters voted for Democrats in the last election, but due to Republican gerrymandering of electoral districts, Republicans control the Congress, so there is no check on him. He is dismantling the environmental protections and social support for the country as fast as he can, he has removed most of the foreign policy professionals from the State Department, he seems to want to dismantle NATO. The last two items are not in America’s interests, but are part of Putin’s agenda.
This leads to a feeling that things are out of control. Our democracy has failed, a con man is president, we are not sure if we will survive long enough to vote him out, if our electoral system does not break down again. Russians might not be responsible for all of this, but Russian financial campaign contributions are clearly illegal, and are at least a hook to slow him down.
Are not these the feelings that appear to have ignited “Trump’s base”? If so, interesting to see the same fears playing out on the “other side”.
It’s not just a matter of feelings. The objective facts are that environmental protections and civil rights are being rolled back. Our electoral system has been subverted to put people in power who did not get a majority or plurality of the votes. Social services and health care are being cut back. Experts are leaving the State Department and the diplomatic service.
You seem to want to draw a false equivalency. Yes, each side fears or distrusts the other. A lot of the fears of Trump’s base were created by Fox News propaganda, and a lot had a tinge of racism. I don’t think that the two sides are comparable.
I am not suggesting that both responses to those feelings are equal in any sense.
I see no reason why if Russians can be questioned by Americans, Americans can’t be questioned by Russians. We are not the Master Race, and Russians are not Untermensch.
I’m a longtime Kremlin watcher, a topic of special interest since I’m second generation Russian and my father (Vasia Gmirkin) was a celebrated operative in the CIA’s Soviet Division from the 1950s to 1990s. So perhaps I can shed some light.
Briefly, the root concern goes back to spring of 2016 with the appalling choice of Paul Manafort, someone long known to have corrupt business ties with the Russian government, as Trump’s campaign manager. At least I was appalled at the time that an active (if unregistered) foreign agent had such prominent ties to a potential president.
Then (as was later revealed) in June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Russian operatives claiming to gave information from the Russian government damaging to the Clinton campaign.
Then on July 27, 2017, when Donald Trump said at a national press conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails (of Hillary Clinton) that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” This is the first time an American candidate has openly appealed to a foreign government to intervene on their behalf in an election campaign. Many Americans of all political persuasions at the time, including non-Democrats such as myself, considered this an open act of treason undermining our democracy and the integrity of our electoral process. He reiterated this appeal to Russia by Twitter later that day and as we now know Russian government operatives initiated hacks into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems that night. The Clinton emails were of course central to Trump’s campaign and to his eventual election victory.
It is also now known that Guccifer, who hacked the Clinton emails and released them through Wikileaks, was not a Romanian as he posed but represented a sophisticated team of Russian government operatives involved in various forms of cyber warfare intended to sow chaos in the American elections and after July 2016 intended specifically to benefit the Trump campaign and to undermine the legitimacy of an expected Clinton victory. One major component was the dissemination of “fake news” (in the original meaning of that term as used by the intelligence community as false news stories planted on social media and elsewhere, not “fake news” as a phrase repurposed by Trump et al as a generic description of unfavorable news stories).
As early as summer and fall of 2016, it was known that the major purpose of Putin’s sophisticated cyber operations and interference in our elections was to sow widespread distrust in the integrity of the American electoral process, elected officials, news media, police and judiciary and other key institutions by fake news and similar means. It is shocking that Trump not only labels the free press “America’s greatest enemy” but opposes an independent FBI, DOJ, and our various intelligence agencies, basically advancing that very agenda.
The current reaction against Trump’s relations with Putin focus primarily on his siding with Putin (“He says Russia didn’t interfere with US elections and I believe him”) against the unanimous verdict of our own intelligence agencies and the Mueller investigation. It is this siding with a foreign power against our own government that has been characterized as treason by many analysts, and suggesting to many that Russia has Kompromat against Trump.
Hope this clarifies the non-trivial character of the profound concerns many informed Americans have over Trump’s relation with Putin and Russia.
As a Hungarian freedom fighter involved in the short-lived 1956 evolution and war for independence, I find your analysis and comments on the “Russia” issue as one of the very best. I see the ex-KGB Putin as an admirer of the powers held by Stalin and Trump as an admirer of the ambitions of Putin (and Kim).
It is an enormous set-back for a country that was established with the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the government-limiting Bill of Rights.
Thank you for the summary outline. Very helpful for an outsider like me.
I don’t deny that Russia does some very ugly things that cannot be ignored.
Everyone Is Smart Except Trump
By Dov Fischer, AMERICAN SPECTATOR
It really is quite simple. Everyone is smart except Donald J. Trump. That’s why they all are billionaires and all got elected President. Only Trump does not know what he is doing. Only Trump does not know how to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper knows how to stand up to Putin. The whole crowd at MSNBC does. All the journalists do.
They could not stand up to Matt Lauer at NBC. They could not stand up to Charlie Rose at CBS. They could not stand up to Mark Halperin at NBC. Nor up to Leon Wieseltier at the New Republic, nor Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, nor Michael Oreskes at NPR, at the New York Times, or at the Associated Press. But — oh, wow! — can they ever stand up to Putin! Only Trump is incapable of negotiating with the Russian tyrant.
Remember the four years when Anderson Cooper was President of the United States? And before that — when the entire Washington Post editorial staff jointly were elected to be President? Remember? Neither do I.
The Seedier Media never have negotiated life and death, not corporate life and death, and not human life and death. They think they know how to negotiate, but they do not know how. They go to a college, are told by peers that they are smart, get some good grades, proceed to a graduate degree in journalism, and get hired as analysts. Now they are expert, ready to take on Putin and the Iranian Ayatollahs at age 30.
That is not the road to expertise in tough dealing. The alternate road is that, along the way, maybe you get forced into some street fights. Sometimes the other guy wins, and sometimes you beat the intestines out of him. Then you deal with grown-ups as you mature, and you learn that people can be nasty, often after they smile and speak softly. You get cheated a few times, played. And you learn. Maybe you become an attorney litigating multi-million-dollar case matters. Say what you will about attorneys, but those years — not the years in law school, not the years drafting legal memoranda, but the years of meeting face-to-face and confronting opposing counsel — those years can teach a great deal. They can teach how to transition from sweet, gentle, diplomatic negotiating to tough negotiating. At some point, with enough tough-nosed experience, you figure out Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” yourself.
Trump’s voters get him because not only is he we, but we are he. We were not snowflaked-for-life by effete professors who themselves never had negotiated tough life-or-death serious deals. Instead we live in the real world, and we know how that works. Not based on social science theories, not based on “conceptual negotiating models.” But based on the people we have met over life and always will hate. That worst boss we ever had. The coworker who tried to sabotage us. We know the sons of bums whom we survived, the dastardly types who are out there, and we learned from those experiences how to deal with them. We won’t have John Kerry soothe us by having James Taylor sing “You’ve Got a Friend” carols.
The Bushes got us into all kinds of messes. The first one killed the economic miracle that Reagan had fashioned. The second one screwed up the Middle East, where Iraq and Iran beautifully were engaged in killing each other for years, and he got us mired into the middle of the muddle. Clinton was too busy with Monica Lewinsky to protect us from Osama bin Laden when we had him in our sights. Hillary gave us Benghazi and more. And Obama and Kerry gave us the Iran Deal, ISIS run amok, America in retreat. All to the daily praise of a media who now attack Trump every minute of every day.
So let us understand a few things:
Negotiating with NATO:
NATO is our friend. They also rip off America. They have been ripping us off forever. We saved their butts — before there even was a NATO — in World War I. They messed up, and 116,456 Americans had to die to save their butts. Then they messed up again for the next two decades because West Europeans are effete and so obsessed with their class manners and their rules of savoir faire and their socialist welfare states and their early retirements that they did not have the character to stand up to Hitler in the 1930s. Peace in our time. So they messed up, and we had to save their butts again. And another 405,399 Americans died for them during World War II. And then we had to rebuild them! And we had to station our boys in Germany and all over their blood-stained continent. So, hey, we love those guys. We love NATO.
And yet they still rip us off. We pay 4% of our gigantic gross domestic product to protect them, and they will not pay a lousy 2% of their GDP towards their own defense. Is there a culture more penny-pinching-cheap-and-stingy than the fine constituents of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? These cheap baseborn prigs will not pay their fare. They are too cheap. They expect America to send boys to die for them in one world war, then another — hundreds of thousands — and then to pay for their NATO defense even a century later.
And then they have the temerity to cheat us further in trade. Long before Trump, they set up tariffs against us for so many things. If the average American knew how badly Europe has been ripping us off for decades with their tariffs, no one in this country would buy anything European again. We would say, as a matter of self-respect and personal pride, “I no longer will buy anything but American, no matter what it costs.”
Every American President has complained about the cheating and imbalance — the NATO penny-pinching-cheapness, the tariff and trade imbalances. In more recent years, the various Bushes complained about it. Even Obama complained about it. But they all did it so gently, so diplomatically. They would deliver the sermon, just as the pastor predictably tells the church-goers on Sunday morning that he is against sin, and the Europeans would sit quietly and nod their heads — nodding from sleeping, not from agreeing — and then they would go back out and sin some more. Another four years of America being suckered and snookered. All they had to do was give Obama a Nobel Peace Prize his ninth month in office and let Kerry ride his bike around Paris.
So Trump did what any effective negotiator would do: he took note of past approaches to NATO and their failures, and correctly determined that the only way to get these penny-pinching-cheap baseborn prigs to pay their freight would be to bulldoze right into their faces, stare them right in their glazed eyes with cameras rolling, and tell them point-blank the equivalent of: “You are the cheapest penny-pinching, miserly, stingy, tightwadded skinflints ever. And it is going to stop on my watch. Whatever it takes from my end, you selfish, curmudgeonly cheap prigs, you are going to pay your fair share. I am not being diplomatic. I am being All-Business: either you start to pay or, wow, are you in for some surprises! And you know what you read in the Fake News: I am crazy! I am out of control! So, lemme see. I know: We will go to trade war! How do you like that? Maybe we even will pull all our troops out of Europe. Hmmm. Yeah, maybe. Why not? Sounds good. Well, let’s see.”
So Trump stuffed it into their quiche-and-schnitzel ingesting faces. And he convinced them — thanks to America’s Seedier Media who are the real secret to the “Legend That is Trump” — that he just might be crazy enough to go to trade war and to pull American boys home. They knew that Clinton and Bush x 2 and Kerry and Hillary and Nobel Laureate Obama never would do it. But they also know that Trump just might. And if they think they are going to find comfort and moderating in his new advisers, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, alongside him….
So CNN and the Washington Post and all the Seedier Media attacked Trump for days: He is destroying the alliance! He attacks our friends!
Baloney. Obama was the one whom the Left Echo Chamber… Chamber… Chamber never called out for attacking our friends — Israel, Britain, so many others — while cozying up to Hugo Chavez, bowing to dictators, and dancing the tango for Raul Castro. Trump is just the opposite:He knows who the friends are, and he wants to maintain and strengthen those friendships. It is no different from a parent telling a 35-year-old son: “I have been supporting you for thirty-five years. I put you through college by signing four years and $100,000 in PLUS Loans. You graduated college fifteen years ago. For fifteen years I have been asking you nicely to look for a job and to start contributing. Instead, you sit home all day playing video games, texting your friends on a smartphone I pay for, and picking little fuzz balls out of your navel. So, look, I love you. You are my flesh and blood. But if you are not employed and earning a paycheck — and contributing to the cost of this household — in six months, we are throwing you out of the house.” That boy is NATO. Trump is Dad. And all of us have been signing for the PLUS Loans.
Negotiating with Putin
Putin is a bad guy. A really bad guy. He is better than Lenin. Better than Stalin, Khrushchev, Kosygin, Brezhnev, Pol Pot, Mao. But he is a really bad guy.
Here’s the thing: Putin is a dictator. He answers to no one. He does whatever he wants. If there arises an opponent, that guy dies. Maybe the opponent gets poked with a poisoned umbrella. Maybe he gets shot on the street. Maybe the opponent is forced to watch Susan Rice interviews telling the world that Benghazi happened because of a YouTube video seen by nine derelicts in Berkeley and that Bowe Berghdal served with honor and distinction. But, one way or another, the opponent dies.
Trump knows this about Putin. And here is what that means:
If you insult Putin in public, like by telling the newsmedia just before or after meeting with him that he is the Butcher of Crimea, and he messed with our elections, and is an overall jerk — then you will get nothing behind closed doors from Putin. Putin will decide “To heck with you, and to heck with the relationship we just forged.” Putin will get even, will take intense personal revenge, even if it is bad for Russia — even if it is bad for Putin. Because there are no institutional reins on him.
But if you go in public and tell everyone that Putin is a nice guy (y’know, just like Kim Jong Un) and that Putin intensely maintains that he did not mess with elections — not sweet little Putey Wutey (even though he obviously did) — then you next can maintain the momentum established beforehand in the private room. You can proceed to remind Putin what you told him privately: that this garbage has to stop — or else. That if he messes in Syria, we will do “X.” If he messes with our Iran boycott, we will do “Y.” We will generate so much oil from hydraulic fracturing and from ANWR and from all our sources that we will glut the market — if not tomorrow, then a year from now. We will send even more lethal offensive military weapons to Ukraine. We can restore the promised shield to Eastern Europe that Obama withdrew. And even if we cannot mess with Russian elections (because they have no elections), they do have computers — and, so help us, we will mess with their technology in a way they cannot imagine. Trump knows from his advisers what we can do. If he sweet-talks Putin in public — just Putin on the Ritz — then everything that Trump has told Putin privately can be reinforced with action, and he even can wedge concessions because, against that background, Putin knows that no one will believe that he made any concessions. Everyone is set to believe that Putin is getting whatever he wants, that Trump understands nothing. So, in that setting, Putin can make concessions and still save face.
That is why Trump talks about him that way. And that is the only possible way to do it when negotiating with a tyrant who has no checks and balances on him. If you embarrass the tyrant publicly, then the tyrant never will make concessions because he will fear that people will say he was intimidated and backed down. And that he never will do. Meanwhile, Trump has expelled 60 Russians from America, reversed Obama policy and sent lethal weapons to Ukraine, and is pressing Germany severely on its pipeline project with Russia.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, Donald Trump is over seventy years old. He has made many mistakes in his life. He still makes some. He is human. But Trump likewise has spent three score and a dozen years learning. He has seen some of his businesses go bankrupt, and he has learned from those experiences to be a billionaire and not let it happen again. No doubt that he has been fooled, outsmarted in years past. And he has learned from life.
He is a tough and smart negotiator. He sizes up his opponent, and he knows that the approach that works best for one is not the same as for another. It does not matter what he says publicly about his negotiating opponent. What matters is what results months later. In his first eighteen months in Washington, this man has turned around the American economy, brought us near full employment, reduced the welfare and food stamp lines, wiped out ISIS in Raqqa, moved America’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem, successfully has launched massive deregulation of the economy, has opened oil exploration in ANWR, is rebuilding the military massively, has walked out of the useless Paris Climate Accords that were negotiated by America’s amateurs who always get snookered, canned the disastrous Iran Deal, exited the bogus United Nations Human Rights Council. He has Canada and Mexico convinced he will walk out of NAFTA if they do not pony up, and he has the Europeans convinced he will walk out of NATO if they don’t stop being the cheap and lazy parasitic penny-pinchers they are. He has slashed income taxes, expanded legal protections for college students falsely accused of crimes, has taken real steps to protect religious freedoms and liberties promised in the First Amendment, boldly has taken on the lyme-disease-quality of a legislative mess that he inherited from Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama on immigration, and has appointed a steady line of remarkably brilliant conservative federal judges to sit on the district courts, the circuit appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.
What has Anderson Cooper achieved during that period? Jim Acosta or the editorial staffs of the New York Times and Washington Post? They have not even found the courage and strength to stand up to the coworkers and celebrities within their orbits who abuse sexually or psychologically or emotionally. They have no accomplishments to compare to his. Just their effete opinions, all echoing each other, all echoing, echoing, echoing. They gave us eight years of Nobel Peace Laureate Obama negotiating with the ISIS JV team, calming the rise of the oceans, and healing the planet.
We will take Trump negotiating with Putin any day.
American Spectator, bleaaah! what’s a hard right winger doing on this site anyway, they’re usually heavy pro-Christian? The author Dov Fischer is a rabbi (and obvious Zionist) and we’re all perplexed why Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and his son support Trump even though Trump refuses to condemn the anti-semite white supremacists who not only support Trump but adore him (the premier known U.S. racist David Duke even recently called Trump “Jesus”).
Before I go on let me point out that the U.S. Corporate Media DID GIVE TRUMP PROPS for succeeding on the particular finance issue where previous presidents had failed. It’s everything ELSE Trump did in Europe that is suspect.
What is obvious is that the Netanyahus are anti-Soros because he supports the Palestinians, and so were even willing to use anti-Semite propaganda against Soros (tweets and such). If you look at Steve Bannon and these other scum, clearly they are anti-semites encouraging this and other racism, but like other Christian Zionists they support Israel because Israel is integral to the “end times.” The hilarious thing about that, this praising of Trump for fulfilling biblical prophecy, is that they have to know that THIS MAKES TRUMP THE ANTI-CHRIST.
Now technically I have nothing against Zionists (other than I think the entire Middle East including Israel should be blown up and start over again. Or, less violently, if every fanatic Christian/Zionist/Islamist were suddenly to disappear it would be a great thing for the planet). I haven’t voted since 2004 and then reluctantly for Kerry because of Iraq, couldn’t bring myself to vote for Clinton in 2016, but Trump has to be so thoroughly removed that I would even vote for Joe Biden in 2020 . . . and you can go to youtube and watch Biden publicly declare himself a Zionist on Israeli television.
to further note how Israel and even the U.S. govt use the Christian Zionists, see the quote below. Since jesus never existed, so is never coming back, and those in Israel who bother to care know this, the jews have NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT:
Some evangelical organizations, mostly based in the United States, send volunteers to work in Israel, mostly in the territories. One such organization, Hayovel, declares on its website that it has brought over 1700 volunteers into Judea and Samaria [the Jewish nationalist terms for the West Bank]. Chaim Silberstein, a leader in the local council of Beit El, a settlement in the West Bank that also enjoys financial support from US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, says he welcomes the volunteers, despite their theology. “Sure, I know that some of our supporters believe that Jesus was the Messiah and will return to Earth, and that the Jews do not fare well in that scenario,” Silberstein tells PRI. “But until that time — there’s lots of issues we can work on together, to our mutual benefit.”
This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.
@Josh curious if you’re responding to me or the original American Spectator post. If it’s me, I’m curious to see if/where you can prove me “wrong”
Normally other countries do not attempt to penetrate the voter registration rolls to impose their will. Yes, the United States has done far worse in the past, like installing the Shah in Iran. But, you know, we on the Left are the only ones who ever bring that up. Why should we on the Left put up with the Russian Right breaking American laws to help the American Right subvert the already-Right-leaning electoral college system because the American Right has done the same or worse to other countries in the past? Just as we on the Left sympathize with the countries who have had their Democratic rights stripped of them by our fellow citizens, we should expect that the Left in other countries would sympathize with our desire to prevent illegal conspiracies to subvert democracy here. The Neo-Conservatives relentlessly criticized Obama as being too soft on Putin, telling him he would have “more flexibility”, wanting a “reset”, and were highly critical he did not do more about Crimea. Now Trump wants to allow Russia back into the G7, and seems to be trying to cause conflict with NATO, essentially going left of the Democrats on Russia while keeping a Right-wing foreign policy agenda for Israel, Syria, and the Middle East in general. This all ties in with all his sons’ secret meeting with Russian officials and his son’s previous admission that all their money comes from Russia. Republicans like to keep talking about the “Deep State” as if it didn’t suddenly become common knowledge as soon as it was needed as an excuse for blaming FBI director that helped him win the election as secretly wanting Trump to lose all along. No Republican before Trump would have believed the CIA or FBI was controlled by Liberals but now it’s heresy to suggest otherwise. The toss-up has caused a weird fractioning among old alliances where many old Neo-Cons have joined the center-left Democrats while the far left like Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald happen to be on the side as Trump in regards to Russia (but nothing else) because they want NATO to be scaled back.
The idea of scaling NATO back (since it has surely run amok since 1991) sounds to me like a very, very good idea. 🙂
I have a confession to make. As an outsider and not having any personal stake as a voter in the U.S. 2016 election I did have half a hope that Trump would beat Clinton for the sole reason that I feared a real risk of war with Russia (primarily over Ukraine and the increasing threat NATO was presenting to Russia) if Clinton became President.
But I don’t deny that Russia has behaved very badly and needs to be dealt with, nor do I deny the corruption on Trump’s side. I suppose I’d like in an ideal world to see Russia dealt with without the fear and/or threats that seem to dominate the media. That is, with calm, appropriate diplomacy that acknowledges Russia’s own interests instead of viewing her as an Apocalyptic Beast.
“I feared a real risk risk of war with Russia if Clinton became President “
That’s the propaganda Russia and Trump we’re spreading. What has Clinton or any other Democrat said or done to indicate a desire for war with Russia? There is no war hysteria in the US. Believing Clinton wanted war is the hysteria Russia fomented to defeat her. I’m surprised someone as cautious and thoughtful as you was taken in. If you were, imagine how many Americans were also. Certainly enough to flip the outcome.
1991: the end of the Cold War with the collapse of the Soviet Union. My fears were based on following the events and statements of US and NATO leaders for years up to the election, especially the events in Ukraine. It looked very much like a repeat of what led to the Kosovo war. I began a review of a book that added much to our knowledge of those events at the time: https://vridar.org/2006/11/27/review-notes-re-collision-course/
I am not saying there is war hysteria in the US. But we have seen how easily and quickly support for “good wars” can be stirred up in recent US history.
I am not sure what you think I have been “taken in” by. I never rely upon one-sided sources or speeches or campaigns. One is surely sensible to watch it all, and we have seen the same cycle turning with war after war in recent decades.
I recommend the book “Frontline Ukraine – Crisis in the Borderlands”, by Richard Sakwa (Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences). Are you familiar with it? Here are some reviews:
Yes, thanks. It is another worth reading. I have it on my shelf and read it back in 2016. Maybe I could dig it out and do my own review of it again — but my “to do” list already stretches over the horizon. I have not even finished my review of the Collision Course book.
In terms of being a good global neighbor, I think it was a mistake for the US to push regime change in Ukraine and destabilize the region. Now Russia has to deal with a fascist state on their doorstep. I suppose in terms of ‘realpolitik’ it’s very clever to foment war as a distraction, but it’s disingenuous to pretend to be virtuous while doing so.
Remember the refugee crisis is one consequence of US aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. This has energized racist/rightist parties across Europe. This began well before Trump.
I do not look forward to Ukraine or Russia becoming another post-apocalyptic wasteland as we’ve done for all the nations we’ve attacked in the past couple of decades.
If you’ve been able to follow comments by politicians though mostly Senators (and even some of his own party) you’ll see the how disturbed they are by his attacking our allies even NATO and attempting to befriend our not-allies (Russia, North Korea). The “anti-Trump” actually started before the election, with many what they now call “never-Trump” Republicans even demanding that he step aside in favor of his running mate pick after the notorious “grab the p” tape was publicly released. Last but not least is that every racist idiot white supremacist crawled out from under their rocks to vote for him. Michael Moore the American satirist even predicted this months before the election, about the only one in this country to get it right that he would beat Clinton, along with being the only one to correctly predict Hillary would essentially lose by his beating her in three “Rust Belt” states. Maybe the most shocking (or least depending on your point of view) is that Republicans who most definitely anti-Russia before suddenly don’t have a problem with it anymore. Anything that kept the Democrats out, even if it was and perhaps will continue to be a Russian oligarch/autocrat murderer. If you’re keeping up, the most recent event was he was willing to consider allowing Russia to interrogate 10 Americans (one now British citizen) who were involved in getting a law passed to sanction Russia over obvious crimes and corruption. The British citizen was recently arrested in Spain but instead of being extradited over what were clearly bogus charges, they released him. This so incensed the U.S. Senate regardless of party that they voted 98-0 (out of 100) to essentially censure him, and when Trump finally realized how much this was going to hurt him he came out with yet another statement reversing himself attempting to stop the vote. Trump insists on turning everything into moral equivalency, he is the first President for instance to not flat out denounce the American Neo-Nazi movement and instead equates it to the counter demonstrators who merely remember why we fought World War 2 and don’t wish to see such things happen again. Trump’s father was also semi-notoriously a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The distrust of Trump goes so far that it is even suggested that he will decide to suspend the 2020 presidential election if things aren’t going his way. I doubt (or I would hope) that the U.S. military would not support that and then defend the constitution by acting to remove him, assuming he isn’t removed by some other means before that. I saw at least one person answering above that none of the arrests yet actually involve his campaign, just things persons did before they got involved in the campaign. That is true so far but Mueller is zeroing in on the campaign especially Roger Stone, and it was recently reported that a reporter gave up a source to the FBI who puts Trump himself right in the center of it. Regardless of that I don’t know what else you can call the Helsinki summit but collusion and even treason, regardless of what he did before the election, and how much he tries to walk back his statements now. The real problem is the Republican Party given Trump still enjoys something like 80 percent support among these racist creeps (who the GOP has actually long cultivated but usually in the dark as they are VOTES), and they already fear losing the midterms. They won’t even through out congressman Steve King, even though his racism and lauding of Neo-Nazi views has become increasingly evidence since the election of Trump. Sure the U.S. isn’t perfect regarding how it treats other countries, and those of us who are against that have said plenty about it. So why do you think we should wish it on ourselves?
I would like to add to the above that even George Will, before Trump a long-respected CONSERVATIVE columnist adored by all of them (and hated now by the Trumpists) is calling what Trump did in Finland collusion and treason. TRUMP WON’T EVEN TELL HIS OWN INTEL CHIEF WHAT WAS DISCUSSED. Will can’t bring himself to say vote Democrat but he is saying either stay home or don’t vote Republican. That’s because the GOP (republican party) so far was refusing to do anything about/outright colluding with the increasingly tyrannical Trump. After trade wars and Helsinki tho, we are finally seeing some movement. Essentially censure votes on tariffs and allowing Russia to interrogate Americans and Trump being anti-NATO. More to come on tariffs, and though they blocked a bipartisan proposal the Republicans appear to be getting ready to investigate Helsinki. ///////Sen. John Cornyn, a GOP Texan and the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, complained the first resolution was “purely a symbolic act” and said he wanted Senate committees to dig into the issues involved before deciding next steps. Cornyn said those steps could include new sanctions against Russia to punish that country for its interference in US elections, something Cornyn said he supports. The resolution Cornyn blocked was authored by Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. Both are prominent Trump critics. Their proposal rejects Putin’s denial of election interference, calls for the immediate enactment of sanctions passed by Congress last year and asks Senate committees to hold hearings into what exactly happened in the private meeting between Putin and Trump, including obtaining relevant notes and other information. Cornyn noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked that committee, as well as the Senate Banking Committee, to hold hearings soon on the implementation of legislation that Congress passed last year imposing sanctions on Russia over the election interference issue. /////
I have a specific observation that I don’t think was previously commented here. My belief is that the hysteria about Trump — Russia, his Twitter feed, and everything else — is a tool Trump uses to shield what is really being done by his appointees (and via his appointments).
That is to say: The media was always (long before Trump) too lazy to “cover” what was going on in the various departments of the US government. The government is HUGE; covering all of this takes time and work; it’s easier to sit in the White House Press Room and wait for someone to hand you “news.”
These days, the laziness level is beyond belief. For one thing, the U.S. media is weak (corporate owners may have something to do with that). For another, the “real” story of what Trump is doing to our country is totally embedded in the agencies, the people who lead them, and what they choose to do or not-do.
One result: The Trumpites running the place are taking apart whatever regulations limited the options and actions of the corporate class. It’s happening. It’s not nearly complete; an article I read recently on the departing EPA chief noted he got a lot of stuff started, and it’s all potentially damaging — but he had not yet shepherded his nightmares to final status. SO: At least at the EPA, there is more to come.
And no one is watching. What the media, the pundits, and the Democrats are going on about instead is an alleged conspiracy between Trump and the Russians (evidence of this is apparently very difficult to come by) — and whatever it is he did with various women before he was President, including someone named “Stormy” (who works without a lot of clothing).
It’s all a distraction. As has been pointed out in a few places in the media (from where I got interested in this idewa), the distraction serves Trump very, very well. The hysteria over Russia prevents the discussion — which is needed — of what’s really going on.
It’s easier for media types to allege that Trump is a “traitor” (you’d have to do a heck of a job of selling this to me) than to note what is being done to coal-mining regulations (in detail), the dept. of Education, and things like what the Dept. of Interior IS doing and has stopped doing.
The only legit questions about this, assuming I am correct (which I might be) are:
1 — why is the media helping Trump in this way? Can they possibly be unaware of what they are doing? Or are they really this lazy?
2 — for how long can this go on? The investigation of Trump-Russia has gone on for a long time now, with no fruit. This President is not yet even on year 3. He could be in power another SIX. Imagine the state of the US in the year 2025 if this keeps up……
3 — is Trump a Complete Idiot, or is he smart enough to easily (and totally) manipulate the media and the commentariat in such ways? Is there a method in his madness?
I have guesses as to the answers. So will you, if you think about this for a short while.
to JoeFormerlyofBKLYN plenty of this goes on whichever party is President. There are plenty of examples. The corporate media helped champion ObamaCare. There were liberals/progressives who hated ObamaCare because it was a giveaway to corporations (as even Trump has sometimes points out), forcing you to buy something from a corp, and if you looked at Obama’s polls you could see liberal PROGRESSIVES were helping to keep his approval rating lower than it might have been. ObamaCare certainly wasn’t outright socialist “Medicare for All” which Obama/Lieberman/and I think Reid actively suppressed and the extent of that suppression including Rahm calling liberals “retards” went largely unreported by the mainstream media. There are also Obama’s supreme court justices who were confirmed. thanks to them in collusion with the others absent Ginsberg you’re unlikely to see any future anti-corporate, pro-environment decisions
I apologize for this. But: I’ve read Mike’s post 3x now.
I am not clear on what Obamacare (i.e., what Mike posted) has to do with my post. Whatever Obama did — or did not do — it seems paltry compared with what Trump has already put in motion.
I was in fact mostly agreeing with you! Obama is overall clearly the better president.
I was only pointing out that the media is not always distracted, it’s sometimes in their interest to not report everything and this happens no matter which side is in power. Despite the ultra-right claims of a “liberal media” the mainstream U.S. corporate media is absolutely center/right except perhaps on abortion.
For instance I agree with what you say on the EPA chief, his personal foibles were of much more interest to the corporate media than what he was actually using his office for.
The so-called “liberal media” including CNN and the NY Times helped push us into an invasion of Iraq and then finally had to apologize for deliberately burying opposing voices. The so-called “liberal media” deliberately attacked Al Gore when he was running for president because he had made threats about breaking up media conglomerates (resulting in the only time Gore led in the polls that year was after the Democratic convention, when he had direct access to the people via TV).
When progressives objected to Obamacare I had to go to alternate news sources to find out that Obama had personally phoned up progressive congresspeople and threatened them into toeing the line, and that Obama’s chief of staff actually called liberal progressives “retards or must be on drugs.”
The only place I might disagree with you is I think the current corporate media is actually doing its job on Trump because objectively he is a complete disaster. How can they ignore he has ruined his country’s standing in the world in favor of places like Russia and North Korea, so much so that it is even suggested he might cancel the 2020 election if it’s not going his way?
They can hardly ignore the Mueller probe, which even after this length of time is just getting started with new things revealed almost weekly such as recently the Russian lady who was arrested and it turns out her activities were so well known yet the GOP protected her from being questioned by congressional Democrats.
and gay rights, after a loooonnngg evolution
part of that in brackets got cut off: the mainstream U.S. corporate media is absolutely center/right except perhaps on abortion. and gay rights, after a loooonnngg evolution
although these days after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage (and despite the vociferous dissenting opinions on that decision from the other justices) gay rights has to now occupy at the very least the center/left. In the gay vs. baker case the Supreme Court ruled narrowly that A) it happened before Colorado instituted the rights law and they agreed the baker was acting within the then current law or lack of one and B) the baker’s constitutional rights were broken because one or two idiots on the council decided to disparage religion in their opinions. I’m also pleased to see that the first few polls after Justice Kennedy retirement indicate overwhelming support for keeping Roe v Wade
p.s. the media often fails to point out that it is Casey vs. PP that would have to be addressed because Casey vs. PP affirmed most parts of Roe v Wade thus converting RvW into “settled law”
I think so, too. Trump may be dumb, but he’s not stupid.
One think tank type analyst said 5 days a week he wakes up and sees politics as usual. Two days a week he wakes up and sees Rome burning.
For 8 years Obama (Democrat) was able to do whatever he wanted even though the congress and house were controlled by Republicans. There wasn’t much difference between the two political groups. Trump has upset the apple cart. He took away a lot of power from all Washington politicians. And along with power comes money. Russia is the best bet the Democrats and it’s main stream news media outlets have of keeping Trump from being re elected. I think this is the answer to your question.
Trump added another trillion dollars to our national debt. Our government continues to grow. More and more people are financially dependent on the government. I don’t see any difference in what is happening in Washington other than new people are raking in money for themselves.
Talking Points Memo has an interesting Editor’s Blog on the subject:
watching the late night comedy shows I’ve been forced to involuntarily watch that Helsinki clip over and over again. Trump even puts emphasis on the word WOULD when he says it. The rest of that statement and his other statements during the press conference tend to support that he meant to use the word WOULD.
This contributes to why NOBODY WITH A BRAIN BELIEVES HIS recant and the 4 GOPers who went on TV to say they are satisfied that Trump clarified himself now look very clownish (they weren’t all that convincing in their own statements).
So we’re left with the fact that Trump used the press conference to side with Russia over his own intelligence agencies, and then further even went so far as to be willing to consider putting Americans facing known to be bogus charges under Russian interrogation. On this latter it took 2 days of outrage that Trump was even CONSIDERING IT and the prospect of a unanimous Senate censure vote against him, to finally force Trump to backpedal and issue a “clarification” hoping the Senate would back off the vote. They didn’t, and it was 98-0 against him (2 Senators not present).
So we’re left with the additional fact that regardless of whatever happened before, at Helsinki Trump committed both collusion AND treason, the simple definition of the latter is providing aid and comfort to an enemy and you only need two witnesses to the act under the Constitution for charges to be brought. We have MILLIONS of witnesses including past intelligence officials one a former CIA director who say Trump should be removed from office and tried for treason.
All politics is based upon hysteria now. If you act like every action the opposition takes is apocalyptic, it makes you and your base feel superior. Goes for both sides. Democrats and Republicans are all crazy. As the independents sit back and tune out. The only thing that counts are results (jobs, economy, no ISIS, minimize current wars). The next two elections will depend upon results, not hysterical rhetoric.
I agree with others that your term “hysteria” is poisoning the well quite a bit.
0. Trump hasn’t let go of his business dealings that clearly are a conflict of interest. Normally, this alone would be disqualifying, but half our country no longer lives in those normal times.
1. Throughout the campaign and term, Trump has had terrible things to say about our allies and nearly everybody, but can’t seem to condemn Putin for killing people in our allies’ countries, killing his adversaries, invading Crimea, or conducting cyber warfare to disrupt our elections. Elections we all ostensibly hold most “sacred”. Normally, this alone would be disqualifying, but half our country no longer lives in those normal times.
2. Trump has often praised dictators where he has business dealings (Singapore, Russia, Turkey(?), etc.). He’s often used his foreign policy powers to enrich himself (Japan, China/ZTE, Qatar). Normally, this alone would be disqualifying, but half our country no longer lives in those normal times.
3. Donald Trump has had many dealings in the past with the Russian billionaire oligarchs, and their money-laundering bank Deutsche Bank. His son stated that they got their funding from Russians, meaning their debt is owed to the Russians.
4. Trump lied and lied to his supporters throughout his campaign and term, claiming he had no business dealings with Russia. He in fact was in negotiations to build the largest hotel tower in Moscow. Normally, this alone would be disqualifying, but half our country no longer lives in those normal times.
3a. Being a business ally with Putin makes you a super-billionaire.
5. The “scandalous” Steele dossier was “scandalous” because it claimed that Trump campaign officials meant many times with Russian officials. Outrageous! For Clinton to even suggest such a thing was “disgusting”. It turns out that Trump had lied and lied to his supporters. Large handfuls of his officials had indeed had many meetings with Russian officials and operatives. By the time this all came out, the goalpost had shifted to, “Yeah but that doesn’t PROVE collusion.” Normally, this alone would be disqualifying, but half our country no longer lives in those normal times.
6. Trump has been conducting a foreign policy that seems oddly pro-Putin.
a. Congratulate his election “win”
b. Try to end sanctions
c. Lie and lie about Russian involvement in campaign cyber warfare
d. Stop our war games practice with South Korea
e. Seemingly support Russia’s rights to Crimea
f. Attacks our NATO allies and the legitimacy of NATO
g. Ignore the other horrible crimes listed above
7. He meets our NATO allies and continues his insults upon them. He’s previously and often questioned the legitimacy of NATO. He calls them our “foe”.
8. He then meets with Putin without any aides or notetakers (tremendously naive, ill-advised and unique. Normally nearly disqualifying), and then stands up next to this horrible dictator, takes him to task for nothing, praises him as strong and powerful, and *takes his side against our own intelligence agencies*, claiming that Putin DIDN’T ATTACK US, but instead American law enforcement was lying and attacking the American people, engaging in a fraudulent witch hunt against him.
“Treason” is only a war crime, so technically he’s not committing treason. But it’s obvious something is wrong. Wrong enough for hearings to start. Some say it’s just his ego’s unwillingness to acknowledge Russia’s attack, since it seemingly invalidates his election victory. That’s enough, if he is no longer acting in America’s best interests, but his own.
*** Start speculation mode ***
I don’t know if Putin “has” anything on Trump. I *speculate* it’s much simpler. It’s all already right in front of us. When he leaves office (or perhaps before), he likely still has the Trump Moscow Tower deal waiting for him, and probably more. All deals like that require Putin’s good graces. How hard is that to swallow?
*** End speculation mode ***
We’re not hysterical about Russia, we’re hysterical about Trump. There is less outrage over the fact that a foreign country is cyber attacking our electoral systems (and other systems, they have penetrated electric power control centers and I’m sure much more). What outrages us is the fact that our own President is not only not responding to the attack, but is working with the attacker to deny it is happening.
I think you’ve missed the point badly if you think the hysteria is about Russia. Nobody is calling for war with Russia, as they were calling for war after 9/11. And I would argue that the Russian interference is far more harmful to our country than 9/11. And I know the US has interfered egregiously in other countries affairs. But we have to protect ourselves and our President is not only not protecting us, he is assisting a foreign country in attacking us. Isn’t that reason to get hysterical?
Here is why.
Only oil explains why Russia remains an enemy even after changing its communist ways, and why the US is chronically locked in tension with other oil heavy countries like Iraq and Venuzuela.
Great article for this particular thread. Sane Republicans fleeing the new white nationalist Trump party
I might be out of step with many of the commenters above if I say I find myself agreeing with Stephen F. Cohen and John Mearsheimer here….
Russia not only meddled in U.S. elections (and Microsoft says they already have instances of meddling in three current campaigns for the coming November), on one of the same days Trump said “nothing to see here” on election-meddling his own admin announced they found evidence of Russian’s hacking of the U.S. electrical grid and even having placed tools to disable the grid to be activated at a later date.
In a non-nuclear age the two countries would be at war by now . . .
This is nonsense. There is no hysteria for war with Russia. Putin is not being demonized. He is a vicious and dangerous man. How many journalists and other critics has he had murdered? The irony is that Putin is Russia’s greatest enemy. He and his fellow oligarchs have looted the country. Trump has probably been complicit in helping them launder their plunder.
The war party in the US, the neocons and their allies, are not the ones raising an outcry against Trump for abetting Putin’s attacks on us. That outcry is being led by the people least likely to support war against anybody. To claim that outrage against Trump’s treason is allied with a desire for war with Russia, is just what Trump and Putin want you to believe.
No-one is saying there is a war hysteria in the US or that anyone is looking for a nuclear war with Russia. But US/NATO actions since 1991 have been increasingly threatening the most basic interests and security of Russia. That cannot be denied, though it is usually justified by “good intentions and support for democracy” on “our” part.
The very word “attack” to describe Russia’s propaganda efforts in the US election itself is instructive of what is happening.
That so many people are describing the sorts of things Russia is accused of as ‘acts of war’ should put to rest any doubt that there is a strain of war fever loose in the US. We should also remember that there is loose talk of ‘treason’ bandied about as if we were already at war with Russia.
As has been pointed out earlier, recent history has shown that Americans are ready to go to war with anyone at a moment’s notice. The hysterical rhetoric surrounding Russia doesn’t bode well for the future.
As the crisis in Ukraine deepens, it looks as though the US is ready to bankroll a proxy war against Russia.
In an observation attended by a profound sense of déjà vu for even casual students of history, the op-ed goes on to say that “[A] demand from the public for a ‘strong hand’ – a new, authoritarian ruler – is rapidly coalescing, due to their dissatisfaction with President Poroshenko and all the other jokers they’ve been dealt from that shabby deck of political cards.” According to the op-ed, a man like that already exists in this ‘destitute and disintegrating’ country. Known as the “White Führer” to his comrades-in-arms, this man is Andriy Biletsky, the commander of the Azov Battalion who is making an ever-bigger name for himself in the Ukrainian parliament and across the broader political arena.
Although there are indications Washington is ‘fed up’ with the Kiev regime (and as Ukraine on Fire demonstrates conclusively, one it was responsible for installing in the first instance in 2014), he says,
“…the United States has doubled down in its support for a military solution to the conflict. With military trainers now on the ground (does this development itself not have an ominously familiar ring to it?), and the U.S. budgeting $350m for security assistance to Ukraine, Washington has also recently started delivering lethal weapons, including the Javelin anti-tank missile system, free of charge to Kiev.’
Putin is a crazy man who wants to put back by force the old USSR if not the entire Iron Curtain. He occupies Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia based purely on some of those people still speak Russian! One of those countries was in the last stages of joining NATO. Other countries like the Baltic states and Poland are literally living in fear. How is this any different from Hitler, and didn’t Hitler and Russia/Stalin once invade Poland at the same time?
Trump blames Obama for not stopping these invasions but there was nothing Obama could do but apply sanctions. There IS something Trump could do to stop future invasions. He could send U.S. to all these countries who are already requesting help.
Poland is a NATO member and Trump in the early days of his presidency did respond to their pleas. U.S. troops have rotated in and out as part of NATO and the presence of U.S. troop provides a slight deterrent. Poland wants a permanent U.S. base as a major deterrent and is willing to pay $2 billion for it. That request was made three months ago but suddenly there is is a deafening silence regarding Poland from Trump.
For the past year or so Trump has deferred to Putin at every turn, and if Trump’s Helsinki recants are lies Helsinki was the toppermost of the poppermost. So questions about what Putin might have on Trump or how Putin could make Trump (and by extension also complicit members of his family) suffer are valid.
More information about the situation from a recent article: Poland and its neighbors in the Baltics — Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia — have all expressed concern about Russia. NATO-led battle groups have been deployed to each country. Lithuania has hosted 150 US troops since 2014, and in mid-2017 the country’s president requested a permanent US presence “to not only deter but to defend” against possible threats.’
A particularly worrying scenario for some in the region is Moscow closing the Suwalki Gap, a 60-mile-long section of the Poland-Lithuania border between Belarus, a Russian ally, and Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. Such a move would cut off the Baltics from the rest of Europe.
I’ve long suspected the Trump admiration for Putin has its roots in white nationalism, and now we get this:
An Alabama organization designated as a white supremacist hate group by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is launching a Russian-language page calling on Russia and the American South to become allies. The group is described by ADL as “espouse[ing] white supremacist ideology and southern nationalism, advocating for an independent southern nation devoid of Jews and other minorities.”
I am a little surprised at the number of comments pointing out how bad Putin is and how few seem to acknowledge conflicting power and national interests — both legitimate (those that accord with international law) and illegitimate (those that don’t).
One of the features of the Manichaean world view is its lack of all subtlety.
I was planning to write a response, and then saw that Russell Gmirkin said everything I would want to say, so… what he said.
All this talk of NATO reminds me of the fact that NATO started out as deterrent for the WARSAW Pact, which doesn’t exist anymore. The problem with bureaucracy is once you fund it, it wants to expand forever, and suck up as much money as possible. Same for 30,000 U.S. troops in Germany, a hold over from WW2. Same for 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. No one in the Pentagon expects 30,000 troops to survive if North Korea would attack the South. They are expendable, to provide the option of nukes, if necessary. The U.S. was originally going to station Pershing missiles with nuke warheads in South Korea, along with the ones by NATO. All went away with treaties. It’s about time NATO was limited to what the Europeans want to do with it. The U.S. should get out of NATO, Germany, and South Korea. Russia and China are sitting there surrounded by U.S. troops. I’d say we would be mighty upset if Russia had 30,000 troops stationed in Mexico and Canada. Germany and Europe (and South Korea), need to put their big boy pants on, and defend themselves.
FWIW, NATO was established six years before the Warsaw Pact was created: 1949 for NATO, and 1955 for TWP.
The idea that any nation goes to the trouble of establishing hundreds of bases overseas in order to lovingly protect the innocent from the baddies is a childhood fantasy, a school-class patriotic indoctrination. They are set up to project power and to place the nation in a position to enforce its will on the world.
(To suggest they are some hangover from a fossilized bureaucracy is akin to the old myth that the Roman and British empires were the purely chance by-products of unforeseen consequences as those peoples somehow ended up in overseas entanglements against their will and for nothing but the best of motives.)
“Damn, dawg! That’s gotta hurt” (American Schadenfreude trope per popular culture). While many will be “cut to the quick” by Neil’s “Realpolitik”, they can take solace in the riddle of steel, i.e. steel is an alloy of elements, not just one thing. And with just a little added chromium, all the blood on it will wipe clean away.
NB: Ottoman political and commercial hegemony.
Are you incapable of engaging in a serious conversation without resorting to sarcasm? I can cite many studies who have said exactly what I said. What are your views based on? Snippets of mainstream media newsbytes?
That’s exactly why we should get out of NATO and South Korea. As far as the Warsaw Pact, most of the NATO scenarios I’ve had the pleasure to read, have involved how to defend against a tank invasion from the East. NATO before the Warsaw Pact was pretty much irrelevant. But the expansion of NATO to about every irrelevant country on the globe both threatens Russia, and drains our resources. Last time I checked, the philosophy is suppose to be protecting what is in the best interests of the security of the U.S., not starting a global war to protect some little backwater country that feels threatened. For the little backcountry, they should adopt the philosophy of Finland. Learn how to get along with Russia, without pissing it off. Of course, now, there’s a push to get Finland into NATO. The bureaucracy continues to expand, until Russia is threatened to the point of starting a nuke war. Meanwhile, about time to exit Afghanistan and Iraq, and stop playing the game of “training” their soldiers. Been there, done that – and expect more green on blue deaths.
Gary, I’m Canadian, but I concur with pretty much everything you stated.
When the Iron Curtain fell, and the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact dissolved, NATO should have also been dissolved. Alas, the military/industrial complex requires conflict…
It would have been a great time to do it. But, as you say, too much political pull for the Lockheed, Boeing, General Dynamics, etc.. Money, money, money. It’s almost impossible to get rid of such a bureaucracy like that, since too many people are on the gravy train.
The very word “attack” to describe Russia’s propaganda efforts in the US election itself is instructive of what is happening.
It is not just the propaganda, although I do see that as an attack on US society, as it was specifically directed at fomenting divisions between and among racial groups and cultivating gun-fetishists as unwitting pawns. Those are two of the most prominent “cracks” into which one might drive a wedge, race and guns. The effect on an already degraded discourse was significant.
But beyond social media manipulations and other propaganda efforts, Russian state actors are clearly attacking US and European IT infrastructure in sensitive industries and institutions.
I have no illusions about US defense of its hegemony and habitual hypocrisy about the disposition of our military power. But taking all of your criticism as a given, on what grounds are the US and its allies not under attack by Russia? (See also Ukraine, Brexit referendum, et al)
“Attack” is a word we use to speak of military attack and implies a right to a military response. Other words can be found: infiltrate, propagandize, influence, manipulate, bribe….
Okay. Was the Stuxnet sabotage of Iranian nuclear centrifuges an attack? (I’m not wedded to the term, and nor do I think our response should be (conventionally) military; I do find the line that what the US experienced was “meddling” in our election inaccurate and minimizing, so what should we call it? I guess I’d take “infiltration” of your suggested terms, but that has a meaning pre-cyber-war, too, and I think that even in conventional terms, if one country “infiltrated” another that it would be considered a concern for the military.)
These questions are bypassing the point. What is important is what the word means to Americans. (I have no idea what the Iranians said about the experience.) We have a phenomenon called “concept creep”. The word “attack” has traditionally meant a physical military attack in these sorts of discussions about international relations. But the word can take on new and expanded meanings in times of public fear and media manipulation — with unhealthy consequences.
I don’t recall Australians ever hyperventilating with claims that the USA had attacked them when they were involved in the overthrow of a democratically elected government (not just an election but bringing down an elected government). We don’t have to go to the other extreme of minimizing it, either, with anodyne terminology. We can simply call it what it is: an attempt/assistance in overthrowing an elected government. That’s good enough for me.
I do think it goes beyond the election. Putin’s aim is really nothing less than a disruption of the post WWII “world order”* and political and societal destabilization of the US and Western Europe. Obviously, he’s succeeding rather more than he would be able to by conventional military means, but it may be a matter only of piling on, that is, it could well be that said order is cracking under its own internal stresses anyway and Russia is happy to help. I’m worried about the rise of international white supremacy and the threat of autocratic rule, so I feel attacked; I feel my deepest-held values quite literally *under attack* pretty much every day now living under Trumpism so I’m sure that colors my thinking on the matter. I do understand what you’re saying, but, please, let’s not pretend that we are not at a perilous crossroads with malicious actors acting maliciously, whatever terms we want to use for their activity.
*I certainly agree that said order serves corporate power and entrenched elites at the expense of oppressed and marginalized peoples and nations, by design. Global white ethno-nationalism under autocratic kleptocracy seems rather worse to me, that is, more of the same or considerably worse for oppressed peoples without even the hope that the better elements of the West can ever find purchase again.
What is your evidence for these assessments of his “aim”? Why do you think we wants to do any of these things?
One of the nice things about being ignorant of Russia is that people can freely invent motives and conspiracies involving the unknown. Imagine if we only ever learned about Martin Luther King from his rabid enemies?